Top Chef’s Hot Recipe for Brand Tie-Ins

From Cigna to Reynold's Wrap, marketers warm up to Bravo's cooking smackdown

Matt Reichman, vp of production at Bravo and an executive producer on the network's hit competition series Top Chef, talks about why brand integrations are more important than ever, the wackiest marketing stunt the show has done in its 12 seasons, and his dream advertiser tie-in. (Hint: Top Chef goes galactic.)

In an age of DVRs and rampant commercial skipping, are brand integrations more vital than ever?

It’s essential for product integrations to be creative. Not just for them to stand out, but also to be accepted by viewers. We come up with ideas we want to execute—we want to make sure they feel organic for the brand as well as make sense for the show. In addition, it’s exciting to see what incredibly talented and skilled pros can do with everyday products.

Will they become increasingly important across all media?

We mirror integrations online and in-show as each platform drives to the next. This all creates higher engagement, conversation and awareness around brands. Last season we teamed up with Cigna to present Web series Padma’s Picks on It gave chefs the opportunity to cook and win their way onto the on-air competition as Padma Lakshmi searched and found 10 of the best chefs from New Orleans.

Check out this week’s cover story on the evolution of product placement.

Talk about the wildest, wackiest integrations on Top Chef.

One of the touchstones of Top Chef is to try and never repeat a challenge. After 12 seasons, this itself has become a challenge. However, we have a great track record of coming up with out-of-the-box integration ideas that end up being fantastic episodes. If I had to pick one, it would be with Reynolds, where we wrapped every single product in the Top Chef pantry, from thousands of tools to food products, in foil. Reynolds has been back for three seasons now, and the challenge was also a big hit with fans.

What dream integration would you like to see on the show?

Virgin Galactic. Top Chef in space!

@DaveGian David Gianatasio is a longtime contributor to Adweek, where he has been a writer and editor for two decades. Previously serving as Adweek's New England bureau chief and web editor, he remains based in Boston.